11 Great Life Hacks Your Grandparents Forgot to Share With You

By Paul Michael on 10 December 2015 0 comments

Times may change, but people will always find ingenious ways to solve life's little problems. These days we call them "life hacks," but your grandparents probably called them something else; perhaps "grandma's secrets." But whatever they were called, some of them are just as awesome today as they were all those years ago. Here are 11 of the best.

1. Make Cheap Coffee Taste Gourmet With Salt

Coffee is a multi-billion dollar business, and you can really spend some serious money on expensive brands. But, you don't have to. Buy the cheap, pre-ground, store-brand coffee. Then, stir a pinch of salt into the coffee grounds in the filter basket, and brew as normal. There is science at work here. The salt reduces bitterness, fooling the brain into believing the coffee is smoother and creamier than it actually is. This also cuts down on the need to rely on creamers and sugar. Try it. You will be surprised.

2. Water Your Plants With Yarn

Do a search for "automatic plant watering system" and you'll see lots of expensive new products, such as the very popular self-watering probes. However, this clever new idea isn't new at all. The basic system has been around for many decades, and works on the same "capillary action" principle — which is the ability of a liquid to move through a narrow space without gravity. Simply place a bucket of water at a level above the plants you want to water, and then drape strands of yarn from the bucket to the soil in the plant pot. Your plants will get an adequate supply of water while you are away, without over watering. Or you can simply set this system up if you're not interested in watering your plants everyday by hand.

3. Keep Eggs Fresh for up to Six Months

This is another life hack that came from necessity over a century ago. What do you do to preserve the many eggs your hens are laying for the coming months, especially without refrigeration? Well, if you have a cooler (one of those cheap Styrofoam coolers will do), a big bag of rock salt, and some grease (shortening works well), you can store hundreds of eggs for up to six months. Simply put a layer of rock salt on the bottom of the container, then coat the eggs in grease and bury them. Continue layering like this until your container is full, and keep it in a cold, dry place like a basement or cellar. Then, remove eggs when you need them, wash off the grease, and enjoy. The older the eggs get, the less versatile they are. But, they're still edible.

4. Cool a Wine Bottle Without Ice

You're having a big party, or you just want a nice chilled glass of wine with dinner, but… you're out of ice, and it will take ages to cool it in the freezer or fridge. Well there is a solution, from the days when automatic ice makers were not readily available. Wrap your wine bottle in a tea towel, place it in a bucket or container in the sink, and then let the water from the cold faucet run over it for about 10 minutes. Then you should have a cold bottle of wine, ready to serve.

5. Relieve Earache With Olive Oil

Some of you may actually remember this from your childhood. I remember it well. If I had an earache as a child, my grandma would put a few drops of warm olive oil inside my ear, then put a cotton ball in there to stop it oozing out. The oil serves as a lubricant, and it also has properties that help fight infection. It won't cure it, but if you have nothing else at hand, it's a good way to provide some comfort.

6. Slice Bread With a Hot Knife

You know, bread didn't always come pre-sliced. We often take it for granted, but your grandparents will tell you tales of whole loaves, and the difficulty involved in making sandwiches. That's where this tip comes from. If you have to cut a whole loaf into slices, take your serrated knife and submerge it into boiling water. Dry it off with a tea towel, and start to cut. The hot knife will make it much easier to cut thin slices from your loaf.

7. Use a Cold Onion on a Mosquito Bite

So, obviously it's important to have an onion in the refrigerator for this tip. Some people already do this, but if you don't, and it's mosquito season, leave one in there. If you get bitten (which I did constantly this summer) take out the onion and cut a slice. Apply it to the bite, and it will draw out the mosquito's saliva (which is what causes the itch). Plus, the cold temperature of the onion slice is also soothing.

8. Remove a Splinter With a Piece of Bacon

If you have a stubborn splinter that just will not come out, don't dig at it with a pin or needle. Instead, use a trick that many grandmas, including my own, used back in the day. Before you go to bed, put a small piece of bacon fat over the splinter, and then cover with a band-aid. In the morning, the splinter will have risen to the top of your skin and can easily be removed. In some instances, it will actually transfer into the bacon fat, which can be easily discarded.

9. Bring Cut Flowers Back to Life With Boiling Water

You want to make that bouquet of flowers last as long as possible, but eventually, they will start to wilt and die. However, a tip from your grandparents can extend the life of those flowers for several extra days. When they start to wilt, boil some water in a saucepan. Let it cool for a few minutes, and while it's cooling, cut a 45-degree angle in the stems of the flowers, and also make a slit up through the center of each stem. Then, dip the ends of the stems in the hot water for about 30 seconds, before placing them back in a vase of room temperature water. Within a few hours, your flowers will be revived.

10. A Lemon Can Remove Salt Stains From Shoes

When winter comes around, your leather boots and shoes will get those dreaded salt stains. I have a pair right now that look ready for the scrap heap, but I'm going to use the old lemon trick. Cut a fresh lemon in half, and apply it to the stained areas. You may need to press down and hold it for several seconds. Rinse with a damp cloth, and repeat a few times. The salt stains should be gone. Now, you can apply polish as usual, and your shoes or boots will be ready for another outing.

11. Remove Ink Stains With Milk

There are many products on the market that are designed to remove ink stains, including Stain Devils. However, your grandparents did not have access to those products, but they still found a way; a cheaper way. All you need to do is soak the stained article of clothing in a bowl of milk, preferably overnight. If it's a really stubborn ink stain, adding a little vinegar to the milk bath will help. In the morning, the stain will be gone.

Did your grandparents teach you any other brilliant life hacks? Let us know in the comments!

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